The National Park Service has been closely monitoring mountain lion residents of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area for more than a decade. The mountains' proximity to Los Angeles means the cougars need to contend with ever-encroaching human development, and the Park Service wants to keep tabs on the population. Part of how they do so is with camera traps set up throughout the mountain lions' habitat. Recently, the Park Service released a series of incredible photographs captured by a camera trap that show a mother mountain lion and her two 15-month old cubs. Check them out below.
P-32, the male cub, checks out the camera.
P-33, the female cub, is seen here, having lost the collar she was fitted with in mid-February. After a series of photos surfaced of her mother and siblings, biologists worried P-33 hadn't survived, but here she is looking happy and healthy.
And here's mom, P-19.
Mom in the foreground with her daughter behind her.
If you look closely, all three mountain lions are in this shot.
In this photo, you can clearly see the male cub (P-32) is wearing a specially designed collar made for sub-adult mountain lions that automatically falls off as they grow larger.
Here, P-33 shows off the papillae—small, backward curving spines that help remove hair from the hide and scrape meat from the bones—that coat mountain lion tongues.
P-33 digs in to her meal.
P-33, who actually beat her mother and brother to the kill site by about an hour, notices the camera.
All photos courtesy of the National Park Service Flickr.